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August 19, 2014

NYSUT heads to the State Fair

Source: NYSUT Communications

Join NYSUT officers, members and staff at The Great New York State Fair, which opens for a 12-day run in Syracuse on Thursday. The fair, which began in Albany in 1841, runs through Labor Day.

As it has for more than a decade, NYSUT will host a booth in the Center of Progress Building on the fairgrounds, not far from Exit 39 of the state Thruway. Volunteers from Syracuse-area locals — led by Solvay Teachers Association President Mike Emmi, a newly elected member of the union’s statewide Board of Directors — will staff the booth. Emmi, the booth captain, coordinates the volunteers’ schedules and ensures NYSUT is well represented throughout the fair’s run.

Thousands of New Yorkers — including many in-service and retired NYSUT members — annually stop by to the union’s booth pick up back-to-school giveaways, including specially designed pencils, rulers and brochures. There will also be materials available for NYSUT members at a designated member area.

NYSUT Vice Presidents Catalina Fortino and Paul Pecorale spent part of this week meeting members and other fairgoers at the union's booth. The fair is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day.

NYSUT members and their families are encouraged to end the summer with a visit to The Great New York State Fair, and to be sure to visit the union’s booth to say hello.

Here are some of the fair’s historical highlights:

1832 – In February, the New York State Agricultural Society was founded in Albany by a group of farmers, legislators and others to promote agricultural improvement and local fairs.

1841 – The nation’s first state fair is held in Syracuse, New York, on Sept. 29-30.  There, an assembled 10,000-15,000 people heard speeches by notables and viewed animal exhibits, a plowing contest and samples of manufactured goods for the farm and home.

1842-89 – The fair traveled among 11 different cities – Albany, Auburn, Buffalo, Elmira, New York City, Poughkeepsie, Rochester, Saratoga Springs, Syracuse, Utica and Watertown.

1889 – Syracuse Land Co. donated to the Agricultural Society a 100-acre tract of land in Geddes (Onondaga Co.) crossed by railways that facilitated exhibit transport.  The project continued through September 1890.

1890s – Burdened with debt from constructing permanent buildings on the site, the Agricultural Society turned to the state government for relief. New York state purchased the grounds in 1899 and took over management of the fair the next year, creating the 11-member State Fair Commission appointed by the governor.

1908 – The first structure in a $2 million long-term building plan was erected, with substantial buildings completed at intervals over the next two decades.

1942-47 – No fair was held, as the fairgrounds became a military base during World War II.

1950s-1960s – The fair expanded to nine days and gained an attendance of 500,000 by the end of the 1950s.  The James E. Strates Midway is added to the fair along with nationally known entertainers, both of which attracted families.

1978 – The fair expands to 10 days, and the buildings at the fairgrounds begin to be rented during the off-season.

1990 – The fair expands to 12 days.

2001 – More than 1 million fairgoers attend the 12-day fair for the first time.  With 1,011,248 attendees, this year still holds the overall attendance record.